Indiana is home to great American entertainers like David Letterman and Tom Petty, who can be credited with most girls’ Facebook status at one point or another… 🎵 “She grew up small and she grew up right, with them Indiana boys, on them Indiana nights.” 🎵

I’ve only lived in Indianapolis for 4 months, but once again I’m packing up all my belongings and moving across the country to a new city. On Saturday I’m driving 2,260 miles to San Francisco, and I’m unexpectedly a little disappointed to be leaving the Midwest. After previously living exclusively in the south and the northeast, I’m glad I got to spend a brief amount of time living like a true Midwestern American.

I’ve put on my tour guide hat and compiled a list of a few of my favorite things about Indianapolis, and I suspect a few of these apply to the Midwest in general.

1. People talk to each other

It’s not that people on the coasts aren’t nice or friendly or polite, it’s just that somehow people are even nicer here. Instead of letting my eyes glaze over while in line at the grocery store, I had to actually engage in conversation with the clerk. When strangers asked me friendly questions, I had to train myself not to retreat like a suspicious turtle pulling back into its shell.

2. Wonderful nature and state parks 

There are amazing state parks all around Indianapolis that you can take a day trip to or plan a weekend camping trip. And they are seriously beautiful year-round.

This was my first time experiencing a real autumn season, AKA the season before winter when everyone drives around to stare at leaves. There are no shortages of beautiful trails and hikes to stare at the fall colors, always less than a 5-minute drive from my house.

3. The Cake Bake Shop

Think you can’t find any trendy, bougie, or instagrammable spots in the Midwest? There are a few hipster juice bars, but Indianapolis is significantly lower on the trendy scale than other places I’ve lived. Midwesterners like their diners and large casual dining chains.

But if you’re looking for some food and atmospheres that are a bit more photo-worthy, The Cake Bake Shop really makes up for it. There is no place more glittery, luxurious, or stunning. Every single pastry, cookie, piece of pie or cake is sprinkled with gold glitter. There’s so much pink, lace, and sparkles, it’s basically like something pulled straight out of Dolores Umbridge’s wildest dreams.

4. The Monon Trail

The ten-mile stretch of the Monon trail from north to south offers a chance to escape to the mean streets of suburban Broad Ripple and retreat outdoors. There are families pulling kids in wagons, walking their dogs, biking, and roller-blading on the Monan Trail all days of the week. It’s a lovely scenic way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

5. Dedication to the fine arts

Indianapolis takes the fine arts seriously. Everyone should visit the Indianapolis Museum of Art (recently renamed Newfields) at some point.

Along with all the incredible art, there are acres upon acres of beautiful gardens surrounding the Lilly House, a gorgeous early 20th-century American house once owned by an Indianapolis businessman and philanthropist. Indianapolis’s history as a free state allowed me to wander this house without feeling all the rich white guilt I experienced exploring massive slave plantations in Charleston, SC.

Indianapolis has tons of theatres, venues, museums, antiquing, and art shows and events to ensure that there’s no lack of culture here in Circle City.

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